Price paid for standing up to Mugabe, don’t miss cricket much: Henry Olonga | Cricket News


ADELAIDE: Wearing a black tweed coat, a woolen hat, glasses and a leather bag in hand, former Zimbabwean pacer Henry Olonga was in the Adelaide Oval looks like a professor who teaches at the University of Adelaide across the River Torrens.
On a day when Zimbabwe lost to the Netherlands in the T20 World Cup, Olonga spoke about what the national team is doing, even though he lives a life far away from the cricket field, which once gave him name and fame.
Olonga was not a great cricketer, not even Zimbabwe’s best during the golden era of the country’s cricket, but the beady hair, a swinging action and a mean bouncer to get Sachin Tendulkar out on a lifeless Sharjah track , made him a household name in India. .
Not to forget his five-for at the Grace Road against India in the 1999 World Cup.
“I am a singer now. There is a lot of music in my life. I just did a few shows last Friday. My first solo performance without our band. It was just me and the audience,” Olonga told PTI . An Adelaide coffee shop.
“After cricket I did a lot of things, I played for Lashings XI with the great Sachin Tendulkar for a few matches. VVS Laxman also played. I did a few commentary gigs many moons back,” said Olonga and remember what his life was like 15 years ago.
He is happily settled in one of Australia’s quietest cities – Adelaide – with his family.
“Life kind of took me in different directions then. I have two daughters, older one who will be 12 soon and younger one who is 10. My wife is an Australian citizen and I have also applied for Australian citizenship. Hope to available soon.
“And once I’ve qualified, you never know, you might see me on athletics track. Javelin throw,” he said, laughing out loud as a reference to his hurling action which prompted him to throw during his debut Test series in Pakistan. 1995.
The lasting memory of Olonga in a Zimbabwe jersey was the 2003 World Cup when he and Andy Flower wore black armbands in one of the matches as a protest against the Robert Mugabe-led government’s policies and “mourning the death of democracy in the country”.
Olonga opposed the Mugabe government’s decision to take farmland from the white community.
In fact, Olonga’s protest at the time was criticized by the then Zimbabwean Minister of Information, Jonathan Mayo, who called him “Uncle Tom with a black skin and a white mask”.
This was a reference to the most iconic literary character ‘Uncle Tom’ from the novel ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ written by Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1852.
“I had to leave everything I built for myself and my family in Zimbabwe. But that’s the price you pay for standing up to a dictator like Robert Mugabe,” he said, still feeling the same way about Mugabe.
“The outcome of my protest was that I received death threats and that I had to leave Zimbabwe. I don’t look back too much on my life in Zimbabwe. I look back on my new life,” said Olonga, recalling the time. when the government of the day charged him with treason.
He spent almost a decade in exile in England before moving to Australia with his wife Tara and their two young children.
There are scars from leaving your own country, but Australia has given him so much to look forward to.
“I have several businesses of mine. I do a lot of music and I’m also into art. I do public speaking (after dinner) and do my music videos.
“Maybe a little bit of acting. It’s keeping me pretty busy at the moment, but honestly, I don’t look back much. No point in dwelling on the past,” said fan of American singer-songwriter Josh Groban said.
Olonga believes his beaded hair and colorful get-up made him a package, and the Tendulkar dismissal at Sharjah only added to the intrigue.
“I was a colorful player. I had funny hair (beads) and I still have funny hair now. I played with passion. I wasn’t the most accurate bowler. I think on my day I could be effective and that’s why people remember me.
“I do remember my cricket days. There was a good day when I bowled out Tendulkar and there was a bad day when he dominated me in the final (tri-series in Sharjah 1998). What I enjoyed was the competitive spirit . of cricket.”
Olonga played 80 internationals for Zimbabwe which included 30 Tests (68 wickets) and 50 ODIs (58 wickets). Nothing out of the ordinary and he doesn’t even make big claims about his cricket career.
“International cricket was always very difficult. Certain aspects are very rewarding. When you won it was great. We had a good team – Heath Streak, Flower brothers, Neil Johnson, Murray Goodwin, Paul Strang, Guy Whittal, but if I’m honest, even then we didn’t win much.
“You talk about taking the rough with the smooth. There was a lot of rough playing for Zimbabwe, we weren’t paid that well. It was a fantastic team and we were one of the best fielding units, we believed, at several World Cups, very similar to what this team is doing.”
The era in which he played for Zimbabwe, it was very difficult to win matches, let alone tournaments.
“We played in a fantastic era where Australia was the best team, there was a very good Indian team and Pakistanis were also a good team – Wasim and Waqar, Saeed Anwar, Inzamam, it was difficult to go on and a tournament against these winnable sides.”
Olonga sometimes thinks about how much cricket has gained commercially in the last 15 years with the advent of T20 and the kind of opportunities ex-players have to laugh to the bank.
“Seeing what’s happening around gives me food for thought. Like a lot of emotion and nostalgia goes into an event like this. I’ve never had regrets like, ‘Oh, I wish I would have played in this era,’ but I love the spectacle. It has the buzz and the passion,” he signed off.


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